Member organisations representing over 1.3 million architects in 124 countries – including the UK’s Royal Institute of British Architects – agreed to adopt the 2050 Imperative at the recent International Union of Architects (IUA) World Congress in Durban, South Africa.

The 2050 Imperative states that urban areas are responsible for over 70% of global CO2 emissions, mostly from buildings, and that over the next two decades an area roughly equal to 60% of the world’s building stock will be built or rebuilt in urban areas. As such, this provides an opportunity to reduce fossil fuel CO2 emissions to zero by 2050.

By signing up to it, member organisations are charged with promoting the planning and design of carbon neutral cities, towns, urban developments, and new buildings, in order achieve the 2050 target.

In cases where carbon neutral is not feasible or practical, built environments must be designed with the highest efficiency in mind – with the capability to produce, or import, all energy from renewable energy sources in the future.

Under the agreement, member organisations have also pledged to advocate and promote socially responsible architecture for the community, and help develop tools that can deliver low cost on-site renewable energy and natural resources systems such as passive heating and cooling, water catchment and storage, solar hot water and daylighting.

Sustainable design

The 2050 Imperative was drafted by Architecture 2030, a not-for-profit organisation focused on climate impacts of the built environment, and its action items are partly based on its recent study, which sets out a roadmap to zero emissions.

The roadmap is designed to help individual countries develop customised building sector CO2 emissions reduction targets and incorporates a range of 10-year reduction targets. Along with specific country targets for new buildings and renovations, the report also offers strategies for addressing land-use/infrastructure planning and development, and the needs of both developed and developing countries.

According to the American Institute of Architects president Helene Combs Dreiling, sustainable design practices implemented by architects at a global level will help to mitigate climate change.

“We have made great strides towards a sustainable built environment, but we still need to advance the industry to make sustainable design the de facto standard for all construction projects,” she said.

In April edie reported on how businesses need to increase board-level understanding of built environment issues if they are to make smarter investment decisions that deal with carbon reduction targets.

Maxine Perella

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